EMI / Capital
By: Eric G.
This nineteen-track career retrospective is a better representation of Duran Duran's output compared to 1989's premature greatest hits package, Decade. Duran Duran has endured the status of fey, make-up wearing poseurs long enough. The band's self-proclaimed mix of Chic, Roxy Music, and the Sex Pistols started a revolution on MTV in 1982, but the fashion outweighed the music and stigmatized the band, which has unsuccessfully fought to be taken seriously ever since. This compilation should prove at the very least that Duran Duran wrote some of the best pop music to come out of a decade that produced such lightweight, forgettable fair as Haircut 100 and Wang Chung.
Granted, when the original quintet appeared for the last time on stage at Live Aid in the summer of 1985, the band's future seemed dim, but the trio moved on and flexed its artistic muscles in the face of its own fame, creating the soul-flavored funk of Notorious. All the little girls had grown up, leaving Duran Duran without a core audience to pull it through the dark times of the politically conscious latter half of the 80's- a period in music led by the transparent bleeding hearts of bands like R.E.M. and U2.
The band fleshed out its line-up and its sound to re-instate itself as a commercial force back in 1993 with a second self-titled album, which spawned the hits "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone" and proved that the band was more than a nostalgia trip. The rest of the 90's have not been kind to Duran Duran, who after all these years still can't shake the image MTV burned into the public's consciousness with hits like "Rio" and "Hungry Like The Wolf." It's a shame, too, because the band's most recent album, Medazzaland, ranks among the band's best work since Seven And The Ragged Tiger.
Greatest has all of the hits and then some. "Planet Earth" sounds as ground-breaking today as it did in 1981, and "New Moon On Monday", which was shamefully omitted from Decade, is one of the strangest songs ever to filter its way onto pop radio with its anthematic chorus and spooky, moody keyboards. The band's crowning achievement, however, is the theme to Albert R. Broccoli's A View To A Kill, which firmly lodged the band at the top of the singles chart for two weeks in July of 1985. Lesser-known tracks like "Serious" and "Electric Barbarella", which are part of the band's 90's oeuvre, stand up well against the hits.
Duran Duran has never subjected itself to fleeting musical trends, which is evidenced by the band's longevity and fluctuating commercial viability. The band has paired down to a trio with only two remaining original members, Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes, but it soldiers on without major label support. Perhaps, Greatest will spark renewed interest in a band that only wants a little respect.